No matter how imminent the peril of Ganondorf, Link always has time for grabbing cuccos, smashing rocks, and cutting down grass. It’s not really a new observation.
I don’t know what led me to starting an OK Cupid account on a Friday night. I had plenty to do. There was this blog, for one. I needed to get into another revision of my novel, and I’d had ideas for two other books on the same theme, one of which I wanted to start, now. My house was a wreck, and my yard had reached the point at which I’d become the Johnson the rest of the neighborhood was set to keep down with. (We’re not really into curb appeal in my neighborhood, apparently.)
But instead of doing any of that, I signed up for OKCupid. Maybe I was tired of carrying this same stupid torch I’ve had for way too long now and hoped I’d find a new one. Maybe it was boredom or procrastination. Whatever it was, it wasn’t legitimate loneliness or an actual craving to start dating somebody. I don’t often feel lonely, and except for the aforementioned torch, I’m not really thrilled about the idea of dating.
(I expect some people I know will try to call me on my shenanigans here. They’ve either heard me talk about being lonely, or they’ve heard me mooning over so-and-so. But number one, that unrequited torch is safe. I know what to expect with it. I know my angst is all me and nobody else, and I’m the boss of it. I can wallow in it when I want to, but it’s on my terms. In other words, it’s my defense mechanism and I like it. Besides that, I’m lonely pretty much two times: When I’m talking to somebody about loneliness, or when something specific has just fed the lonely monster. Like watching “Love Actually” or actually making an attempt and getting turned down. I know there are single people whose singleness and craving to be paired up is one of the driving forces in their lives. But like I’ve said before, my life as a single person is usually pretty awesome. I don’t often meet people who make me think about trading it for something else. That’s probably why when I do, it takes me a long time to let go of it, even when it’s clearly unrequited.
Also, this: “Lonely is a freedom that breathes easy and weightless.”
End parenthetical aside.)
Back on OKCupid, I filled out my profile, found a picture of myself I could tolerate that wasn’t already my profile picture elsewhere, and started answering questions. After a while, I realized that anybody looking at my profile could see the actual answers, and I wasn’t remotely comfortable with, say, having somebody from work stumble across my profile and get a glimpse at my masturbatory habits or how many dates I think a couple should have before having sex or what I think of biting in the bedroom. So first I took my picture down, since it was the most recognizable thing about me. Then I hit the button to clear my questions, since otherwise I’d have had to wait 24 hours to re-answer them and flag the more personal ones as private. Once I’d cleared the questions, I basically started over.
When I started my post-privacy-freakout round of questions, I was mostly interested in seeing my score for my highest possible match score inch higher by tenths of points. The questions themselves weren’t that great or compelling. It was more like I was editing them in my comments. “How are we quantifying ‘BIG’ and ‘SMALL’ tattoos here? And why are those adjectives in all caps?” “This question is worded too broadly for me to really be able to answer it well.” “I’m really not sure what this means in this context.” Etc. The more questions I answered, the closer to 100 percent my highest potential match became.
Besides that score, the site kept giving me new tasks to do, and it started to feel like a level grind. Fill out the profile. Upload a picture. Answer 50 questions. Now answer 75. Now talk to someone. Now talk to 5 someones. I made this observation on Facebook, and I wish I’d been the person clever enough to say, “And if you do the right achievements, you get a new mount!” But I wasn’t.
Even when people started talking to me on OKCupid, it still felt like a game. A guy sent me a message. He seemed nice enough. We sent a few notes back and forth, and then I wondered whether, from his occupation and a couple of other details, I might be able to figure out who he was for real. It took about five minutes and some Google fu.
I sent a message to another guy that OKCupid had put in my quiver (a collection of allegedly very compatible matches). The site said he responded selectively, so when he responded to me, I felt like some kind of rare elite. Other people sent me notes or visited my profile, and I’d answer or not answer and visit or not visit. And as it went on, I blew the whole weekend looking at profiles while answering questions and watching old episodes of “Psych” on Netflix Streaming.
Then it started to get creepy. I got propositioned for a threesome, so I put in my profile that I’d block anyone who did that. I started to get messages that just had a weird tone. “I thought you looked nice. Do you think the same about me?” I had no qualms about deleting the ones that were all in netspeak or gave me the heebie-jeebies, but then there were others that I felt obligated to answer. Somebody had taken the time to read my entire profile and send me a note that made it clear that they’d read it, and they’d asked me a question to prompt me to write back.
“But that’s not what I want,” I finally thought. I have plenty of people on the Internet to send notes to already. So many I can’t keep up with them all. And what was happening on OKCupid didn’t delight or amuse me nearly as much as what I see from my friends, both RL and online, on Facebook and Twitter every day.
I started trying to figure out a way to to get a sense of “You’ve got to measure up to the people I already know” in my profile, but without sounding bitchy or arrogant. I thought about putting this video under “You should message me if … ” saying you should message me if you grok its awesomeness — and that it happened to me, a single person who likes being single.
But Googling “Famous Tracy” takes you to my real identity way faster than it took for me to track down the guy I’d been trading messages with on OKCupid.
Finally, skeeved out by the privacy aspect of it all, dreading the idea of writing replies (or not writing them) to the apparently kind and decent people who had sent me messages, and really not looking forward to the idea of seeing anything through the progression of profile visit to OKCupid message to e-mail to phone call to date, I deactivated my account. The sun set on the field, half mown with no rupees to show for it.
Back to the poem: “Later“